Choosing The Childfree Life After Infertility: Emily’s Story

I want to begin this post with an apology. Are you thinking, ‘Oh man, what did Brittany do now?’ It’s actually something I haven’t done…

I had, and still have, a specific agenda in mind for the rinky-DINK life: to break free of the stereotypes surrounding the childless (i.e. my greatest goal). By childless, I mean exactly as the dictionary defines: “Not having any children.”

This brings me to my point and to my apology. To those in this tribe who are childless by circumstance, I’m sorry. I am so very sorry for not having included you the way I should have.

Many bloggers will claim they have the best readers but I hate to break it to them, they’re wrong. I’ve got the besties. Some of my readers have written to me about their struggles with infertility before embracing the childfree life. As you subscribers know, the rinky-DINK life is getting a face-lift soon. In addition to a new layout, I will be adding W A Y more content for my childless/childfree by circumstance ladies and gentlemen.One loyal rinky-DINK lifer in particular emailed me her story of infertility and I want to take this opportunity to share it with you now:

But, why wait ’til then? One loyal rinky-DINK lifer in emailed me her story of infertility recently and I want to take this opportunity to share it with you now:

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Bad Childhoods, Dysfunctional Families, and Mental Illness: Reflections on HBO’s ‘Mommy Dead and Dearest’ From a Childfree Perspective

  • SPOILERS: This post contains spoilers from the HBO documentary ‘Mommy Dead and Dearest.’

My husband and I cuddled up on the couch on Saturday evening to watch Mommy Dead and Dearest, the HBO documentary about the murder of Dee Dee Blancharde and the accused, her own daughter Gypsy Rose Blancharde. Not the most romantic date night for sure, but intersting nontheless. Gypsy endured one of the worst cases of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, a mental illness and form of abuse in which a caregiver intentionally makes their dependent ill, ever to be recorded. After watching the documentary, I read this article detailing what Gypsy plans to do after being released from prision. In addition to considering culinary and cosmotology school, Gypsy had this to say as told by her step-mom Kristy:

She had told me that one day, she hopes when she gets out, that she wants to be able to grow a family. And she had mentioned that to one of her cellmates, and her cellmate said, “Well, aren’t you too scared to raise your child like your mom did?” And she said, “What I have learned is how to not raise my child how my mom raised me. I am learning how to raise my child by [Kristy,] my mom I have now. With compassion, and with love, and being honest, and being there for your child for all the right reasons.”

-Anna Gragert & Rachel Sanoff,

Despite the grizzly tale of Gypsy’s life, her comments here scare me more. About 30% of abused and/or neglected children will grow up to later abuse their own children. You might reason that Gypsy stands a 70% chance of not abusing her future children to which I say, why take that chance?

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A Realist’s View of Pregnancy

Never could I wrap my head around my friends having babies without a hint of fear. I just had so many questions. What if you experience complications? What if the baby isn’t healthy? What if…what if…what if? Those who knew me well attributed my concern to anxiety. While they’re not wrong, they’re not exactly right either. In my personal experience, I’ve perceived a kind of willful ignorance in some (not all) prospective parents; a ‘hope for the best’ approach to conceiving. While I do strive for glass half-full optimism, I still fancy myself a realist. I rely on cold hard facts when making decisions. The decision about children was no different. I calculated the risk/reward ratio of pregnancy and opted not to invest and I have, what I consider, a realist’s view of pregnancy.

Risky Business

What do you think is more dangerous: contraception or pregnancy? According to researchers, the risk for young and healthy women who take birth control pills is 240 times lower than the risk of death from pregnancy-related complications. Based on news clips and article headlines, I could have thought oral contraceptives to be riskier.

“Pregnancy is more dangerous (meaning, more likely to kill you) than the following: general anesthesia, hang gliding, SCUBA diving, rock climbing, canoeing, and air travel. In fact, pregnancy is 14 times more dangerous than the next riskiest activity (hang gliding).”

I’m an Ob/Gyn and I Never, Ever Want to Be Pregnant, Lisa Torres, M.D.

I’m not keen on becoming 1 of the 600 women in the U.S. who die as a result of pregnancy-related complications each year. In fact, I think I’d rather take up hang gliding… while on birth control.

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Why I’m Choosing Dogs Over Children (And Yes, I’m a Millennial)

Millennials have somehow earned such a bad rap. We’re narcissistic and selfish. We’re entitled and we’re lazy. Except that, as a collective, we’re not any of those things. Prior to the Millennial-hatred bandwagon, the blame game was pitted against Generation X. Prior to that, I’m sure the Silent Generation was ragged on by the Baby Boomers. I suppose we all want someone to blame, other than ourselves, for the way the world is. Regardless, making a living as a millennial is quite a bit harder than it was for our parents. But it’s not just how we earn a living that becomes a point of contention, how we choose to live our lives is also criticized.

Young Americans are less likely to be homeowners, car owners or parents than their predecessors, but they do lead in one category: Pets.

– Abha Bhattarai, Millennials are Picking Pets Over People

Is choosing dogs over children so wrong? Like every question, the answer will depend on who you ask. And if you ask me, it’s so not wrong…yes, it’s right. Here’s why I’ve made this decision:

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The Rinky-DINK Life Turns One!

Last week I had the privilege of writing for The League of Fabulous Women, a lifestyle network for childfree women. Founder and childfree woman herself Chloe Peacock gave me free reign to tell the story of how I found my voice as a childfree blogger.

I began my journey as a petrified newbie.

You see, at that time I had never even uttered the word “childfree” in real life. My husband Colin and I had decided not to have children, of course, but this choice wasn’t something we advertised. To be completely honest, it wasn’t even something we were proud of. Over the years, I became comfortable considering myself as someone who didn’t have kids. If people interjected, “You don’t have kids yet,”  I’d muster a fake chuckle but I did not correct them.

This past Saturday marked the one year anniversary of my first post on the rinky-DINK life. As my article for TLFW explains, it took me many more months to speak my truth. I’m happy I bared parts of my soul and encouraged dialogue about the childfree choice.

We all can and should have a voice, not one that is only used for speaking out against the stigma, but one for teaching others about our lifestyle, one that is proactive in explaining who we are and what we stand for.

Every time I read an article or an excerpt demonizing the childfree, I admit I want to scream. But then I remember who we really are. Sure, I may be biased but I think you have to know the complicated inner workings of this dynamic before you can even begin to pass judgement. We all come from different backgrounds and have different reasons for embracing the childfree lifestyle. We’re young, old, introverted, extroverted, men, women, surgically sterile, naturally infertile… Generally speaking, most rumors about us are more akin to folk lure than reality. Perhaps its easier to vilify us as some sort of subhumans. Sorry to disappoint, though:

We are just people – people who made a different choice.

And without all of you wonderful people who made a different choice, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do or share what I have. I want to personally thank each and everyone of you for your continued support of the rinky-DINK life. Every comment, email, tweet, or shoutout means more to me than many will ever know. In an effort to empower you in your choice to be childfree, you ended up empowering me.

To celebrate our one year anniversary, we’ve got some exciting things in the works. If you haven’t already, please subscribe so I can keep you informed. 

If we haven’t met yet, please introduce yourself in the comment section below!

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The Day After Mother’s Day

If you’re reading this, congratulations. You survived yet another Mother’s Day. One of the downfalls of social media is being unable to escape current happenings, holidays, et cetera. I’m more active than ever on twitter, Instagram, and Facebook these days and while I’ve willingly made that choice, I can’t help but roll my eyes in Anderson Cooperesque fashion at the steady stream of #momlove.

I don’t have anything against moms. I have a mom (hi mom!) and I love her dearly. However, I think we would both agree that I should take advantage of the 365 opportunities per year to appreciate her, not just the one commercially-driven day. I recently heard of someone who would agree with me on this: Anna Jarvis. Just who is she?

Anna Jarvis is the founder of Mother’s Day. She created the holiday in memory of her own mother who cared for wounded soldiers in the Civil War. Jarvis’ mother may have been her source of inspiration in more ways than one since she also established a holiday of sorts – Mother’s Friendship Day. This celebration was used to establish peace between Union and Confederate moms. Although Anna Jarvis founded Mother’s Day from a place love and admiration, she grew to regret having created it once commercialism took over.

She referred to the florists, greeting card manufacturers and the confectionery industry as “charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations.”

-Jonathan Mulinix, The Founder of Mother’s Day Later Fought to Have It Abolished,

Jarvis lived out the last of her days in a mental asylum. Now, we can’t say Mother’s Day is what drove her mad but one of her last public appearances included going door-to-door petitioning Philadelphians to rescind the holiday. Hm.

Many today have similar beefs with how commercialized Mother’s Day has become, referring to it as a Hallmark holiday. Plenty of women who are not mothers also have a difficult time accepting this day as it fails acknowledge the 48% of women who do not have children and the 1 in 8 couples who are infertile.

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Nonconsensual Parenting: The Disturbing Trend

by: Colin Brolley

There exists a phenomenon that happens to men and it often does not carry the social reaction I feel it deserves. Some women trick their male partners into procreation. Like so many other things people do, there are various reasons for this. Sometimes it is done as a misguided effort to save a failing relationship and sometimes it’s simply because a woman wants to have a child.

I had the opportunity to play the fly on the wall in observing this situation unfold around a friend of mine. He had been dating a girl for some months. Things were going well so he decided to buy a house and invite her move in with him. This decision made sense for him; he was living with his parents at the time but had a sizeable amount of savings and wanted to take advantage of a first time home-buyer’s tax incentive. She moved in as planned, he paid the mortgage and property taxes, and she paid the utility bills. All was well.

Then, one early Saturday morning while Brittany and I were having breakfast at a local diner, he called me with the news. His girlfriend was pregnant. In a panic, he asked me to come over. Brittany and I scarfed down our omelettes and rushed over to the home he shared with his now-pregnant girlfriend.

My friend and I sat at the picnic table in his back yard. He didn’t say much. His hands were trembling and he had that thousand yard stare that soldiers sometimes get after surviving combat. I became worried about him. He was an absolute wreck.

Meanwhile, his girlfriend was having a much different experience. If he was a soldier surviving combat, she was a woman who just won the lottery. She announced her pregnancy by bringing a stroller and some baby books into their living room. The items spoke for themselves and she was all smiles, seemingly more focused on the way in which she told him than the fact that she was pregnant with his child.

When Brittany and I left their house that morning, something seemed off to me. I could’ve attributed her attitude to time, after all she did have longer to digest the fact that she was pregnant. It still didn’t sit right with me.

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5 Budget-Friendly Tips for a Childfree Trip to Walt Disney World + Free Printable!

When you think of Walt Disney World, what comes to mind? For many, Disney is synonymous with children – lots and lots of children. It makes sense. My first experience with the Mouse’s house was when I was a child myself. As a ten year old, I lost my Disney virginity a bit later than my peers. Though I had the benefit of being old enough (and tall enough) to ride the “big rides.” In the early 2000s, the band Aerosmith was still relevant, therefore making it especially exciting to ride the Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster. I found Tower of Terror to be accurately named as did my brother and father who are both scared of heights to this day.

I remember being so bemused when I overheard adults complaining. This was because I was blind to the long lines and congested walkways. At that time in my life, I also didn’t know Disney magic cost money. I had no idea the effect this quintessential vacation had on the pockets of my parents. For many adults, The Simpsons’ Dizzneeland (“The Happiest Hell on Earth”) is perhaps a more accurate description.

This was not how my parents thought. As a middle class family of five, we still managed to visit Disney World twice. As a childfree adult now sitting in a similar income bracket myself, I’ve been able to visit Disney twice more.

While avoiding children in Disney World in 2017 may have worse odds than surviving the Black Death in the 1300s, it’s possible to limit your exposure. It’s also extremely possible to have an amazing experience as an adult without children. No wonder almost 20 million of us grown-ups without children visit Disney World each and every year.

Here are my 5 Budget-Friendly Tips for a Childfree Trip to Walt Disney World:

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Adult-Friendly Restaurants: No Kids Allowed

Some new restaurants have been popping up in my area. When you live in a small town like I do, that’s a big deal. One in particular is a bar that specializes in wood fire oven pizzas, small plates, and of course alcohol. We read some good reviews and thus my husband Colin and I decided to check it out. After filling ourselves to the brim with risotto balls and spicy shrimp, we left fat and happy but even still, something left a bad taste in our mouths; about one-third of the patrons brought their children.

At this point, you may be wondering if I hate children. Although no childless or childfree person should have to justify his/her decision not to have kids, I am an over-explainer by nature so I feel compelled to clarify. I don’t dislike children, I actually really love them. I work full-time with young kids. At social functions, you’ll more than likely find me kissing on babies than socializing with my peers. My decision to be childfree was always more about not wanting to become a parent than it was about not wanting to have children.

But here we are – my husband and I shaking our heads as we exit the restaurant.

“Why would parents take their kids to a bar?” Colin asks me knowing full well neither one of us is truly qualified to give an answer. In the safety of our own vehicle, we do as is human nature and judge. It’s wrong I know, I’m working on it.

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Manufacturing Motherhood in the Pronatalist Nation

Manufacturing Motherhood in the Pronatalist Nation

“Know what keeps a community going strong? More babies.”

Or so says the billboard I pass on my commute to work. I must’ve driven by this sign a hundred times without ever paying much mind. I suppose this is a bad thing if you’re a billboard considering getting noticed is literally your only job. As I became more resolute in my decision to be childfree, the more the words on this advertisement stood out.

So just what is this advertisement trying to sell? Specifically, a brand new maternity ward at an area hospital. But in a more general sense, this billboard is pushing something else. It’s something that really shouldn’t even be up for sale: motherhood. And the method of choice? Pronatalism.

Pronatalism? What is the meaning of this word that even predictive text cannot compute?

It’s the idea that parenthood and raising children should be the central focus of every person’s adult life. Pronatalism is a strong social force and includes a collection of beliefs so embedded that they have come to be seen as “true.”

-Laura Carroll, The Baby Matrix: Why Freeing Our Minds From Outmoded Thinking About Parenthood & Reproduction Will Create a Better World
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